Your Long Covered Baker: Tips and Techniques for Your New Favorite Pan

Our long covered baker has been a test kitchen and customer favorite for many years. Those looking for a good crusty Italian or French-style loaf rely on this pan to produce excellent results.

If you’ve been with King Arthur Flour for more than a year or two, you’ll recognize this beauty from our catalogue pages; but also realize it’s been through some changes, too. The original long covered baker we sold had a very domed lid with a handle on top, and indeed my baker at home is this style. It’s an old friend and prized companion in my kitchen.

Over time, several versions have been tested out, with our newer long covered baker shown below. The upper lid is now flatter, with a wide rim that makes for easy lifting and moving. In fact, we’ve found you can bake in both baker and lid if you need two loaves fast.

To begin, choose a recipe that’s more rustic and hearty rather than sweet and buttery. Breads with keywords like “artisan,” “hearth,” “hearty,” and “crusty” are all good candidates, as are loaves that use the no-knead method.

Shoot for a recipe using 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups of flour. If the recipe uses more flour, you’ll want no more than 2 pounds of dough in the baker; so weigh your total batch and divide as needed.

Want five delicious choices for your pan? Here goes: No-Knead Crusty White Bread, Three-Cheese Semolina Bread, The Easiest Rye Bread EverBaker’s Grain Sourdough Bread, and Light-as-Air Seed Bread.

Now, all of this said, using the pan can take a bit of time to get used to, and there are definitely things to keep in mind that will bring your results from “good” to “OH MY GOODNESS!” Let’s check out the key things you need to know for covered baker success –

How to Use a Long Covered Baker via kingarthurflourShould I soak my long covered baker? Wash it with soap?

Unlike terracotta bakers, you don’t want to soak this long covered baker in water before use. The unglazed porous stoneware will trap the steam given off by the baking bread and create the crackly crust, so there’s no need to soak. Nor do you need to add a separate pan of water to the oven; the pan takes care of it for you.

While you could use a damp cloth to wipe down your long covered baker, we don’t recommend washing it with soap. The porous surface can absorb the scent and flavor of soap, which doesn’t always pair well with garlic and cheese!

Don’t fret about stains and spots, though; those are signs of a well-seasoned pan, and something a professional baker (or your Nonna) would seek out.

How to Use a Long Covered Baker via kingarthurflourShould I grease my long covered baker?

Definitely grease. Or oil. You want a barrier between the bread and the stoneware. I prefer a solid shortening like Crisco, which you can paint on with a pastry brush like Picasso, or smear on with a paper towel. Olive oil is a good choice, too. Be aware that butter may not give you the results you seek, as it melts quickly and burns more easily.

You can add another layer of protection and flavor by sprinkling the interior of the pan with semolina flour or durum flour. Cornmeal will do in a pinch; but again, like butter, it’ll burn more easily.

How to Use a Long Covered Baker via kingarthurflourDo I score/slash breads baked in my long covered baker?

While topping with seeds or a seed blend is completely bakers’ choice, slashing the bread is highly recommended.

Slashing or scoring your loaf with a very sharp knife or blade gives the steam generated inside your loaf a good place to escape. If you don’t slash (or slash poorly), the steam is going to escape from the weakest point in the crust, be it on the top, end, or side. Even with the covered pan, cutting the surface of the loaf before baking is good practice.

How to Use a Long Covered Baker via kingarthurflourCan I place my long covered baker in a hot oven?

As with all stoneware, the long covered baker won’t tolerate extreme changes in heat. While some pans state they go from freezer to oven to table, this pan is meant to be taken from room temperature to a cool or preheated oven.

For a cold oven start, place your nearly-risen bread into a cold oven, then turn it on to the temperature called for in the recipe. Keep in mind that 450°F is the maximum recommended temperature for this pan.

If your recipe calls for starting in a cold oven, here’s how you time it: once your oven reaches temperature, set the timer for the time recommended in the recipe.

Checking on your bread is a bit like voting. Do it early and do it often, until you have a good feel for how long a typical recipe will take in your personal oven.

How to Use a Long Covered Baker via kingarthurflourDo I bake with the lid of my long covered baker on, or off?

In short, the answer is yes. To get the benefits from trapped steam, you want to start the bake with the lid on the long covered baker. The lid should be loose-fitting, with a little wiggle room – plenty to keep in the steam, but not a tight seal.

When the bread is well set and beginning to brown, about 15 minutes before it’s set to be done, go ahead and remove the lid. Your bread will brown and crisp on top to a bakery-worthy loaf.

How to Use a Long Covered Baker via kingarthurflourHow do I keep my breads crisp after baking?

Well, to be honest, the bread’s crust will soften to some degree over time, no matter what you do. What I’m driving at is how to slow that process.

As you can see, greasing and coating the pan prevented any sticking. The bread has pulled away from the pan and has a lovely crust. At this point you could just un-pan the bread and place it on a rack to cool.

But if you’d like that crunch to last a little longer, turn the bread out of the pan and place it back in the turned-off oven, laying it right on the rack. Crack the oven door and allow the bread to cool in the oven. Any residual moisture from the bread will be wicked away by the hot oven, resulting in mega-crunchy crust.

How to Use a Long Covered Baker via kingarthurflour

May I tell others how much I love my long covered baker?

I think we all know the answer to this one. Go ahead, brag away. That’s one killer loaf you’ve made there, and you’re now best friends with your long covered baker. Bravo, and a toast to you both.

Please do leave us a comment below with your tips, tricks, and favorite recipes for our long covered baker.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Kit

    I am confused by seemingly contradictory recommendations. To Debra’s April 2019 inquiry about preheating the long baker, you state that “it is not recommended that this product is preheated empty.” But in response to a similar inquiry by Urs in Feb 2019, you say that “if it’s ours or Emile Henri’s, you can preheat it” and go on to recommend the use of a parchment sling in the cover to rise the bread while the base heats. Am I missing some critical distinction here? Should/can the King Arthur long baker be preheated or not? Thanks for a clarification.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The earlier comment has been updated to say that the one from us should not be preheated. Thank you, Kit! Annabelle@KAF

  2. Debra

    Many no-knead recipes call for the baking pan, cast iron, etc. to be preheated in the oven while the oven comes to temp. 450. The unglazed oblong baker (I recently purchased from KA) says to oil and optional dust the base to prevent sticking. What oil can be used in the pan and won’t burn off or smoke while the pan is preheating for 20-30 minutes? And do I oil and then cover with lid to preheat the pan? Or preheat both lid and base (not covered)?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Debra! The product page recommends using any neutral-flavored vegetable oil. It’s not recommended that this product is preheated empty. Annabelle@KAF

  3. RWG

    I have an Emile Henry glazed long bread baker, not the plain terracotta type this article describes. Do I need to do anything different due to the glaze? I have never really figured out how to use this lovely pan. Thank you for your help!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi RWG! You can follow the same steps as this article, but since it’s glazed, you don’t need to oil it before using it. It’s a great pan to preheat the base of to make for an extra crispy, high-rising loaf. As the base preheats, let the loaf rise in a parchment sling in the lid so you’ll be able to easily lift it up and gently lower it into the hot base, pop on the lid, and bake away! Annabelle@KAF

  4. Urs

    Hello there,
    I was wondering if it is ok to use the long baker like a dutch oven, which means,
    pre-heating the form empty in the oven while the sourdough bread is proofing in a couch.
    Then for baking take the long baker out of the oven and toss the proofed bread in the form, cover and bake.
    Is that ok?
    Thanks for your answer.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Urs! That will depend on the brand of long baker. If it’s ours, it shouldn’t be preheated. If it’s Emile Henry’s, you can preheat it. (Just put it in from room temperature, not straight from the fridge or freezer.) If you’re using another brand, you’ll want to check with the manufacturer.

      Here’s a tip! If using a pan that can be heated empty, you can preheat the base and let the loaf itself rise in a parchment sling in the lid. This will allow it to rise in the right shape. Then you can lift and carefully lower the loaf into the hot base, pop on the lid, and bake away! Annabelle@KAF

  5. Theresa

    Can anyone Tell me bout this terra-cotta I inherited from my mom. I’m just now un packing boxes afyer10yrs and found this. I’ve baked bread in the past but not in terra cotta. She made the best French loaves. I think she soaked the top?? But not sure. I’d like to send a photo of it but can’t find a link to send. Bottom is 14×2 and top fits snuggly is 15×3 top had small handle 2x 1. It’s unglazed. It’s been seasoned from use. The top is so much higher than bottom. I’ll try to soak but it would break my heart if I ruined it. Any advise would help. Oh! The top had wheat embossed in the sides.. otherwise, no markings any ware!

    Reply
  6. Vicki Ann

    Trying out my long covered baker right now. Your delightful instructions are so helpful that I feel like my expert friend is guiding me through the process. So glad you’re here. Love your blog. If the aroma is any indication of how tasty this bread will be, delectable and delicious bread is about to happen.

    Reply
  7. Charlotte

    I received a Long Covered Baker as a gift. Do I need to “ season” it before first use? If so, what is best method?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      No need, Charlotte! You can just grease it and bake as described in this article. Annabelle@KAF

  8. rcakewalk

    I got a round baker like this from a friend (used), and while it bake gorgeous bread, there was a distinct smell and off flavor that it imparted. I suspect it was washed with a detergent that lingered!? I’d hate to scrap it and buy another; do you think there is a way to remove / re-season this type of baker? Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      If it’s a baker that can be soaked, you might consider soaking the baker in a solution of water and white vinegar and then reseasoning it. (We like rubbing the inside with solid vegetable shortening before baking at a low temperature.) Also, consider lining the baker with a parchment paper sling. This barrier might help eliminate that off flavor that permeated the bread initially. With time as you wash, season, and bake with it, the parchment paper liner may no longer become necessary. Good luck! Kye@KAF

  9. JoAnn G.

    I would like to use the KAF no-knead bread recipe in my clay baker. Is it recommended to start with the already pre-heated oven, or the cold start method. If I use the cold-start, can you advice on baking times?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi JoAnn, we recommend using the cold start method with your clay baker, as it is gentler on the pan. We outline the timing of using the cold start method in this article on our blog. You’ll see we recommend baking the loaf for about 25-35 minutes depending on the size of the loaf (start the baking time after the oven is fully pre-heated), and then bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes with the lid removed so the loaf can brown fully. The internal temperature should reach 190°F when it has finished baking. We hope this helps, and good luck! Kye@KAF

  10. Linda

    I’ve had two unglazed bakers like this (but another brand that had a knot handle on top) for YEARS – and always had great success with the nicely shaped fat loaves of crusty French bread they make. BUT – lately I have been having failure after failure! Since I’ve been baking for 50 years, this is pretty discouraging!

    I normally use a sourdough starter, additional water, bread flour, sugar, salt and additional 2-3 tsp of yeast. (We enjoy the sourdough taste the starter gives, but hate to wait for HOURS for the starter to raise the loaf.) I’ve always had the bottom oiled, and coat it with a generous sprinkle of cornmeal (as the original instructions suggested). The instructions also said to soak the lid in water, until the loaf was ready to go into a preheated oven.

    My loaves used to fill the baker, sometimes pushing up the top a bit, and popped right out of the bottom with a shake – beautifully formed fat French loaves with chewy interior and crispy thin crust..

    Now – though I allow the dough to rise to a little over the top edge of the baker bottom (as I have always done), they rise very little in the oven. Worst of all, they brown quite darkly on the bottom and STICK to the bottom and the sides. The final bread tastes fine – but looks more like a fat flat bread.

    I lost the original recipe that came with my bakers – but have the original recipe that I’m following. The problem may be oven temp – I remember (I think!) that the oven was supposed to be preheated to 425, the covered baker placed in the oven for 30 minutes, then the top was removed and the bread baked for an additional 15 minutes – though I found that usually I had to cover the top with foil to keep it from browning too much for my taste.

    Have I ‘mis-remembered’ the oven temps or time? This last time, I put 1 lb 10 oz of dough into each of the bakers, after newly oiling them and sprinkling cornmeal liberally, and baked as above – though I actually only baked them 20 min covered, then only an additional 17 uncovered, covered with foil.

    I remember that in our last home, I found that an ideal baking time was 27 min cover, and 17 min uncovered, with foil placed on top the last half of that time. Help please?

    I’d hate to think I’ve lost my ‘white flour thumb’! Best thing I can think of for these last two loaves is bruschetta! Thanks for your suggestions!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Linda, it sounds like for some reason your bread is either rising too high too fast, then falling and becoming “flat bread,” as you describe. Or has very little oven spring, which would point to it over-rising in the pan. Clearly, it’s not behaving like it used to. Here are the directions we give with a typical covered baker recipe: “Place the pan in a cold oven, and set the oven temperature to 425°F. Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Remove the lid from the pan, and bake an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and its interior temperature measures 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. The bread will bake for a total of about 35 to 40 minutes, starting in a cold oven.” Maybe the issue is you’re putting the pan into a preheated oven, instead of a cold oven, and the loaf is indeed rising and then falling; this longer time in a hotter oven might also explain the burned bottom. Try greasing the pan with some solid shortening, and starting in a cold oven; hopefully that’ll give you your white thumb back! PJH@KAF

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